Isn’t there a famous quote, “The key to wisdom is knowing all the right questions”? Thank you for taking the time to send your inquiries our way. I thought I’d answer your questions in this Coffee Chronicle to share with others.
Question: “Is price reflective of quality?”
~ D. Foster Spokane Valley, WA
Simon Answers: “Ahhhhhh, the age old question applies to coffee, too. Yes, for the most part, the price of coffee is a reflection of it’s quality. There are, of course, exceptions to the rule. Coffees can be priced high due to short supply, mystique or marketing. Examples might be Pure Hawaiian Kona, Jamaican Blue Mountain or Sumatra Kopi Luwak. But a good rule of thumb is, “there is no such thing as great, cheap coffee”. The best coffee in the world is grown at elevation in remote mountainous areas. It is nurtured during the growing stages, picked selectively and processed carefully. Subsequently, the better coffees command a higher price because of the great care, time and attention in their development. We are honored to find these quality coffees for you.”
Question: “I read somewhere that if my espresso tastes bitter or sour I should consider removing the crema. Is that right?”
~ P. Miles Grand Junction, CO
Simon Answers: “After 20 years in the coffee business, I have learned there are few absolutes. So, if espresso minus the crema is your preference, have at it. From where we sit, at Cravens Coffee, if the crema (rich, creamy intense extraction of coffee flavor that sits on top of your espresso shot) is “off-tasting” it is simply a symptom of something bigger such as improper extraction or the recipe for the espresso blend itself.
Espresso blending is difficult. It’s when you take different beans from different countries or origins and at different roast levels combine them for a specific taste profile. A recipe, if you will. It’s very subjective and harder than it sounds. If there are certain coffees we require for our blends, there are just as many roasters who would never choose those same coffees. Sometimes it’s a matter of taste. Other times it’s a matter of price. At Cravens Coffee, espresso blending is about achieving sweetness and body in the cup. We’d like to hear from you at email@example.com. What qualities do you value in an espresso?
Question: “Do I use less coffee if I use a coarse grind vs a fine grind?”
~ S. Post Kalispell, MT
Simon Answers: “Not exactly. Grind is relative to the time the coffee is in contact with the water. For example, French Press ground coffee is very coarse due to a 5 minute steeping process to fully extract the coffee flavor. Espresso, on the other hand, is finely ground due to the 20-25 second time the coffee is being extracted under pressure. In the middle of these two methods, drip brewed coffee, which is controlled by gravity and turbulence, requires a medium grind.”
Thank you for choosing Cravens Coffee!
p.s. Just for fun, check out our homespun video from last Sunday’s Eastern Washington Komen Race for the Cure. 90 gallons of coffee (!), inspiring stories and beautiful spirits. It was an honor to serve! Keep the spirit alive with a purchase of Survivor Blend thru the month of May!
Caffeine in Decaf
Question: “How much caffeine is in a cup of decaf coffee? How is it processed? Are there any chemicals used?”
~ Valerie, Post Falls, ID
Thank you, Valerie, for submitting this popular question.
Decaf coffees purchased by Cravens Coffee are all chemical-free! Different coffees are treated by different methods. Here are some examples:
Our Mexican Decaf coffee is a “Natural Process” decaf. This is a specialized procedure combining mountain water and an extract of sugar cane molasses, enabling a gentle caffeine extraction from the coffee bean while avoiding pressure or excessive heat treatment. By protecting the natural cell structure of the green coffee, flavor is preserved.
The Cravens’ Organic Mexican Decaf is decaffeinated using the Mountain Water Process. In this process, green (unroasted) coffee beans are immersed in water containing soluble components of actual coffee to help ensure the beans maintain their original flavor qualities during extraction. The caffeine is then separated from the bean using special carbon filters.
On average, 99% of caffeine is removed in any of the various decaf processes. US Federal regulations require that in order to label coffee as “decaffeinated” coffee must have had its caffeine level reduced by no less than 97.5%.
For example, an average arabica coffee bean is about 1.36% caffeine by weight. When 97% of that caffeine is removed, about 4/100th of 1% is left (.0408% of the coffee weight is caffeine).
Rest assured, Cravens Coffee places the greatest importance on proper decaffeination to guarantee the highest coffee quality and authentic flavor in your cup.
Thanks to Valerie from Post Falls, Idaho for her great question. Please submit your question to Simon, anytime, by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for choosing Cravens Coffee!
Dark Shiny Coffee Bean
Question: “Does a dark, oily coffee bean produce a stronger flavored coffee than a light bean?”
~ L. Johnston, Spokane WA
Sometimes! If only it were that easy.
A dark, oily coffee bean usually signifies a bean that has been roasted longer, thus, releasing more flavor (the oils) from the hard bean. Sadly, sometimes an oily bean can also represent staleness as the bean has sat too long and has “sweat” it’s flavor out and is no longer fresh. In the end, you must trust that your roaster ‘roasts-to-order’ and offers you fresh coffee, everyday.
Now back to your great question… In the final cup, strength of flavor is a ratio of coffee grounds to water. In other words, you can brew strong coffee with a lightly roasted bean if you leave the water in contact with the grounds longer. Conversely, you can weaken a strong, dark roasted coffee if brewed for a short period of time. However, if brewed equally, the dark roast will have a more pronounced and lingering roasted aftertaste, often associated with “strength”.
It might also be helpful to know that higher grown coffees are more flavorful. The more carefully prepared and properly roasted, the better the coffee whether light or dark. And, of course, in the end the best tasting coffee is what tastes best to you!
Italian vs French
“What do the roast names mean? What is the difference between Italian and French roast?”
~ D. Auburn, Missoula, MT
There are many roast level names for coffee and just as many reasons for using them. Northern European, Vienna, Cinnamon, American, City, Fully City, Espresso … to name a few.
Every roaster has their own designation of how a bean is roasted to completion. Not unlike a chef deciding the doneness of a steak or an artist knowing when the painting is complete. At Cravens Coffee we use roast level names to designate the degree of darkness and oil development of the bean. Development happens throughout the whole bean, not just the surface. Our lighter degrees of roast are Northern European and Vienna. The darker degrees of our roast levels are Italian and French. Each roast level is intended to bring out the “perfect point” of flavor in each bean as defined by the roaster. We thank you for putting your trust in Cravens Coffee Company.